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Fetal Movement / Kick Counts

Counting the kicks is an easy and reliable way to monitor your baby’s well-being. By keeping track of fetal movements, you may reduce the risk of a stillbirth. Most women start to notice a normal daily pattern of fetal movement; for example, when baby is most active during the day. These movements are noticed reliably around 20-24 weeks in the first pregnancy and 18-20 weeks in subsequent pregnancies.

If you are having a normal, low-risk pregnancy, you should be aware of the significance of fetal movements in the third trimester; if you perceive decreased movements, you should perform a fetal movement count. If the baby movement is daily, then no counts are required.

If you have risk factors in your pregnancy, you should monitor fetal movements on a daily basis starting at 26 weeks.

If you do not feel six movements within two hours (usually lying in a dark room with your eyes closed, taking a break after one hour to eat, drink and walk around a bit before resuming counting), you should go to the Birthing Suite at Lakeridge. If you feel 6 movements, even within 5 minutes, then you can stop counting and be reassured.

Here are some facts about fetal movements:

  • Fetal movements are perceived by women regularly after 24 weeks in a constant fashion
  • The optimal time for testing may be in the evening, when fetal movement is often increased
  • Fetal movements are perceived best when lying down
  • Maternal exercise has not been shown to alter fetal activity
  • Most studies do not show an increase of movements following food or glucose
  • Smoking reduces fetal movements temporarily by increasing carboxyhemoglobin levels and reducing fetal blood flow
  • Most drugs have no effect on fetal movements
  • Depressant drugs and narcotics may reduce fetal movements. Notably, antenatal corticosteroids may have the same effect for two days
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